Pagan Community Notes: Week of February 1, 2021

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Benjamin Banneker statue in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. [Image credit: Frank Schulenburg – CC BY-SA 4.0]

TWH – Today marks the first day of Black History Month in the U.S., a national and federally recognized celebration of the many contributions that African Americans have made and continue to make to the country.

The idea of national recognition and celebration of the works of African Americans is largely attributed to being conceived and developed by Carter G. Woodson in 1926 as Negro History Week.

In 1915 Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and launched the following year The Journal of African American History to help preserve the voices and stories of Black people and share them with others. He chose the second week in February to honor two men whose contributions he felt had significantly benefited the independence of Black people – Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, as both celebrated birthdays that week, February 14, and 12, respectively.

While Woodson would not be alive to experience Black History Month as it is known today, his work paved the way for the month-long observation.

President Gerald Ford extended the celebration of culture and recognition of the contributions of Black Americans to a full month in 1976.

Black History Month is now observed in Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Ireland, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom observe it in October.

There are many resources available for learning about Black culture, a good starting point might be the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture which is offering a variety of programming online that celebrates, educates, and highlights the many achievements of Black Americans.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) also has many programs to celebrate Black History Month. PBS published an article today that highlights 28 different Black history makers, one for each day in February.

For a more spiritual approach to the month, the Pagan community has many Black leaders, authors, presenters, and bloggers. Dowsing for Divinity published a list last year of some of the Black Pagan writers within the community, as well other Black writers.

And finally, this morning Reuters reported that Stacey Abrams has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts of encouraging more voters to use the ballot box as a method of promoting change non-violently.

 

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Crossings of the Veil

Georgia Reavis (other last names include-Graham and Jacobsen) passed to the Arms of the Goddess in her sleep in the early hours of 26 January 2021.

Reavis was the progenitor and elder of the Midwest Georgian Wicca line, sometimes referred to as the Ravenfeathers line, and her Initiates live all across the U. S. She was the first licensed Wiccan minister in Oklahoma, and a past member of Covenant of the Goddess.

According to a close friend and unofficial historian of the Georgian line Reavis saw and responded to Georgian line founder, George “Pat” Patterson’s personal ad that ran in the Bakersfield, California newspaper and offered a free copy of “The Truth about Witchcraft” and a contact number.

In her own words, “…so I answered it, (I never looked in the personals part). I got a paper back from him and I answered it and went over there. Damn, was I scared. (He had a coffin in his living room with voodoo dolls and a picture of the Sabbatic goat on it.) Merle (another Georgian High Priest) was sitting at the table with his steel blue eyes staring at me and that was even more scary. Anyway I knew I finally CAME HOME. Pat and Bobbie brought me into the craft on 9-23-1975 as a first degree and I reached elder on 11-13-1978.”

While living in Norman, Oklahoma, Reavis owned several small shops. The first, The Four Winds, was the only open Pagan center in Oklahoma at that time and was closed in 1984. In 1995 she opened, Raven Feathers

Many initiates and close friends remember Georgia as being patient, but also “no bullshit” when it came to answering questions and “telling her students the truth.” They also recognized her as being instrumental in finding their spiritual path, and as “being the bedrock” that their spiritual practice was built on.

She will be missed by many. One person in her Witchcraft line said, “Her words lead me home to a place that was deep inside of me. There are people that you just know are part of your soul cluster. And when one dies, a part of your soul leaves also.”

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Keith Crawford, Scottish Pagan Federation’s Regional Co-ordinator for south-east Scotland crossed the veil into the Summerlands last week.

Crawford was an initiated Gardnerian Wiccan, and noted as a prominent Pagan faith leader, having recently received his status by the Scottish Pagan Federation (SPF) as an approved SPF Celebrant authorized to perform legal Pagan weddings and other life rituals in Scotland. He had recently joined the Druid Grove in Edinburgh.

Additionally, Crawford was involved in interfaith dialogue. At the time of his passing, he was about to take up a post as a Pagan University Chaplain for either Edinburgh Napier University or Heriot-Watt University.  Pagan chaplaincy in university was one of his major ambitions.

He had a long involvement with Edinburgh’s longest-running Pagan Moot, Meadow Moot which he helped organize and participated in by offering talks. He also helped to start Silverknowes Moot and, in the past few years, created a third “Edinburgh Moot” at the Friends’ Meeting House.

Crawford had worked in the theatre in London, before moving to Edinburgh to work at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. He then branched out on his own as a professional hypnotherapist.

On the tribute page set up on Facebook, his friends remember him as gentle, kind, and compassionate, and as an intelligent and fascinating friend with which to have a conversation. His friends also noted his commitment to the community, and how much he will be missed.

What is remembered, lives!

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In other news:

  • Russian artist Artyom Bizyaev, who is based in St Petersburg, introduced the idea for Baba Yaga play set on the official LEGO Ideas design forum. In just a matter of days, the idea has over 10,000 supporters which is the threshold for serious consideration for production by LEGO. Bizyaev’s play set design includes the Baba Yaga, her hut with chicken legs, Bayun the Cat, Vova the frog, and Vasilisa the Fair, who apparently has a cruel stepmother. The hut also comes equipped with a variety of accessories–cauldron, dishes, household tools, firewood, and of course the Baba Yaga’s flying mortar and pestle.
  • Another court decision regarding Native American land and the environment was issued last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court agreed with and upheld a lower court ruling that the Army Corps of Engineers fell short of the National Environmental Policy Act when it allowed Dakota Access to cross a federal reservoir in North Dakota without a fuller and in-depth environmental review than the narrow one it completed. While the Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court decision, it did say the earlier ruling had gone too far in ordering the pipeline shut down. However, the violation in question terminates the easement for the pipeline held by Energy Transfer LP. Without a valid easement, the pipeline is encroaching on federal land. What happens next is uncertain. Energy Transfer LP could appeal the decision, which would move it up the Supreme Court, or it could end up with the Biden administration making a decision on the pipeline which environmentalists have been lobbying for.
  • The Iowa Satanic School issued a press release that thanked Republican members of the Iowa Senate for passing S.F. 159, which if signed into law would allow The Iowa Satanic to receive taxpayer funds to operate their school. “The Iowa Satanic School recognizes the considerable efforts of the Iowa GOP to move forward with School Choice for our state. This will give Iowa families the choice to seek educational opportunities outside of public schools, using their taxpayer-funded student first scholarship to make Iowa’s FIRST Satanic School a reality.” Also included in the press release, “Knowing that this program may harm rural Iowans, we are in the early planning stages for a fourteen-county bus service for the 2021-2022 school year, and satellite schools for rural communities in 2023 and beyond. Our vision is that families in EVERY district in Iowa will have the opportunity to study Satanism in all its forms.”

The news is full of sad and painful stories. So today, TWH is adding a new section to Pagan Community Notes that we hope our readers will find a little lighter and more cheerful:

Positively Noteworthy

Footage of pandas romping in the snow at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

 

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Triple Goddess Tarot by Jaymi Elford, artwork by Franco Rivolli, published by Lo Scarabeo.

Card: Eight (8) of Wands

The week ahead will likely call for a focus on identifying priorities, and then taking action. Intuition could figure prominently when it comes to making decisions, especially those that may be required to be made on the fly. There is also the energy of change being in the wind.

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.